New Delhi: A painting by F N Souza, one of the founding member of the Indian Progressive Artists' Group, sold for a record over USD 4 million in a Christie's auction in New York, creating a new art record.
Souza's monumental oil-on board work titled "Birth" done in 1955 and which experts point out bear resemblance to the French painter Manet's 1863 work "Olympia" realised a prize of USD 4,085,000 in the South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art auction held at the Rockefeller Plaza on September 17.
The artwork, created by the artist who died in the year 2002, surpassed the estimates of auctioneers who pegged the work to fetch between USD 2.2 million to USD 2.8 million.
The previous record for the most expensive work by an Indian artist was held by V S Gaitonde whose luminous painting had sold for USD 3.79 million at Christie's inaugural India auction in Mumbai in 2013.
Meanwhile, "Birth" representing the pinnacle of Souza's creative output in the 1950s had previously also held the world auction record for being Souza's priciest work when it sold for USD 2.5 million ? set at Christie's auction in London in 2008.
Another Souza work "Man and Woman Laughing" fetched approximately USD 2.59 million in a recent Saffronart sale on September 10 here.
"Birth", according to auctioneer's catalogue note "uniquely encompasses all the subjects that define Souza's early practice, including the pregnant reclining nude with hairpins, the autobiographical man in a priest's tunic, a still life on the window ledge and, beyond the window, a townscape with corniced buildings and tall steeples."
Another oil-on-canvas by Souza "Still Life with Bread and Fish" went under the hammer for USD 233,000 in yesterday's Christie's auction in New York which posted total sales of USD 8,770,062 (including buyer's premium).
Other important lots included those by fellow Progressives. SH Raza's oil-on-canvas "Red Sun" sold for USD 365,000, Akbar Padamse's Untitled (Cityscape) oil-on paper went for USD 239,000. Gaitonde's Untitled watercolor and ink fetched USD 197,000. Ram Kumar's Untitled (Street Urchins) realised USD 197,000. Jehangir Sabavala's oil on canvas "Fisher-folk Madh island" sold for USD 155,000 while Rameshwar Broota's oil canvas "Havaldar" went for USD 149,000. Seven works by the late painter M F Husain also sold in the New York auction.
Contemporary artist Bharti Kher's trademark bindi artwork she titled "Rugged Terrain" fetched USD 100,000.
Also "Qalandar" by Sadequain one of Pakistan's most celebrated artists was sold for USD 173,000. So also Abdur Rahman Chugtai's ink and watercolour untitled work "Lady with Bird" realised a sale price of USD 50,000 in the auction.